Sunday, September 30, 2012

The "Old-Fashioned" Days

I was just having a conversation with my 5-year-old son. He was asking me if the "old-fashioned" days were real. I reassured him that they were. Then I explained about the spinning wheel I'm borrowing from a friend and how in the "old-fashioned" days they used that to spin wool, to weave into cloth, and then made their clothes. It was a long process! 

Then my son asked, "Was it black and white back then?"

hahahaha! I couldn't help laughing at that and he laughed right along with me.

I then had to explain about old cameras that made movies black and white and old TVs that didn't have the technology to show color, and of course old-fashioned days were in color! Haha!


This reminded me of a wonderful book I found at a thrift shop called "The Olden Days" by Joe Mathieu. The author used Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA to model the book after. The illustrations are beautiful, colorful, and detailed and clearly show how things were done in "the olden days". I've been waiting for the time when my son was the right age to be interested in looking through it and it looks like today is the day!

I always love studying General Store pictures.
How exciting it would have been to shop at one!
I have a secret dream of opening up a real general store that looks very similar to this. :-)

Aren't the illustrations awesome?
My son wanted me to take a picture of them building the barn.
I love how it's showing each of the first few stages of the barn building  in one picture. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From the Archives

We've been a bit busy around here with my in-laws coming to visit from Utah and attending the Mother Earth News Fair, which was a blast! Now that things have calmed down, I thought I'd share the newest installment of "From the Archives".

Make Do And Mend
Keeping Family and Home Afloat On War Rations

I happened to get this using an Amazon gift card for my birthday. Yay! I got a companion book to this that I'll post at a later time. You have no idea how ridiculously giddy I was upon opening this book...

 Make Do And Mend is a collection of reproduced instruction leaflets published by the British government to help people deal with fabric rationing. It is the perfect little book of tips and tricks for mending, knitting, altering, caring for, and in general, helping you make the clothing you had last as long as it could.

I just love the "decorative elbow patch"! haha!
And I thought the idea of enlarging a girl's frock to be rather clever!
The book was full of ideas like these. Just imagine how this impacted the fashions of the day!
I have already skimmed most of the book and found lots of tips I could use today in repairing my family's clothing. Skills like darning and patching are disappearing since clothing is basically pretty inexpensive, especially if you shop the sales and thrift stores. I'd like to revive these skills! There's no reason not to practice thrift and frugality even in these "modern" times! I am bound and determined to learn how to darn. My father-in-law told me his mother would use a light bulb to put in the sock and darn over. Clever!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's Finished!!

I've finished my corset! Hooray! There are a couple places that need some hand tacking, but other than that, it's wearable!


Yesterday was my birthday and I asked my husband if we could go up to Gettysburg again. I needed to go to the shops to get some supplies for my corset. So, we decided we'd bring our bikes and bike trailer up too. What a fun way to spend my birthday! We loaded up the kids and bikes and a picnic lunch and drove the hour to Gettysburg.

We had a fun time riding our bikes around the monuments and having our picnic. We even chatted with a few people at a Civil War encampment. I have to say that I felt completely joyful riding around. Riding bikes is so much faster which is wonderful as everything is so far apart. But also, I felt so much closer to the place - feeling the wind on my face, smelling the grass and earth and being close to the sense of history that walking or driving in a car can't give in the same way. *sigh!*

Anyway, we got caught in a huge downpour just as we got to our car, but we loaded up and drove to the first shop where I dashed into Abraham's Lady. This is where I got the boning and corset lacing. Then we drove on over to Needle & Thread so I could pick up some corset grommets, a beautiful cotton silk-finished gold thread to match my corset, bias tape, and an awl to make the holes for the grommets.

Awl, lacing, thread, bias tape, grommets, and boning.
That cotton, silk-covered thread is a dream to sew with! You definitely get what you pay for!
How I love shopping in Gettysburg! :-)
People don't do double takes or get weird expressions when you tell them your costuming projects!

Stitching the casing for the metal boning was a pain in the rear!

Busk in the center and you can see my lovely gold thread.

It's finished!  My husband helped lace me up.
I had to figure out how to adjust everything.
It definitely feels different than my 1860s corset.
Walking and sitting are a crazy weird sensation that will take getting used to.

Single lacing.
The corset is not a perfect fit, otherwise the center back of the corset would be completely parallel.
Not too bad for the first try, though!
I'm wearing my 1860s chemise.

All I can say is that I don't know how Jennifer Ehle ran skipping through fields in the "Pride & Prejudice" movie wearing a corset like this. I will also now have to study dresses of women who had very little chest to model my dresses after as that seems to be my problem. Believe me, that corset is pushing up everything I have and it's quite underwhelming! haha!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Progress of the Regency Corset

Some ladies doing my hair in preparation for my Civil War coming out ball.
Who needs prom when you can go to a ball?!
That particular Victorian corset I'm wearing was made by my mentor Suzanne.
It is currently on exhibit at the USU Museum of Anthropology in their  Body Modification exhibit! 

The past couple days I have been working hard on my Regency 1810s corset. Yippee! Having a double of myself would have come in handy, but my husband was able to help hold the corset in the back so I could see how it was fitting. It has been years since I've made a corset for myself, so I don't expect this corset to be perfect.

I've been pleased with how it's turned out so far! I impressed myself by how quickly I learned how to properly put gussets in, which was strangely satisfying. I had 24 to put in altogether, so I am quite the expert now! Ha! My corset is composed of 3 layers - gold silk cover, a thick and sturdy cotton drill for the inner lining, and a white linen for the outer lining. I was worried about the linen. It is very strong, but also very flexible. I think the other stiffer layers should keep it in check though.

Right now, however, I'm at a stand still. I need metal boning to put in at the seams and center back. It's nothing a trip to Gettysburg again wouldn't cure! haha! I could have used cording instead, but I didn't plan for that when I cut out my silk. (I would have needed to make it one size bigger.)

I did end up altering the back by cutting off 1" off the center back pieces. The previous version of this corset didn't have the extra width because that was period correct, but I guess a lot of customers wanted the extra width. Now, I sure hope there won't be too huge of a gap in the back! The instructions said to expect between 2" -6" gap in the back, which is quite a lot compared to my Victorian corset. I'm guessing I'll be borderline 6" which makes me a little nervous. We'll see when I lace it up! That's the hard part of corsets. It's so hard to tell how well it actually fits until it's all done. It doesn't matter how many people are holding and pulling the mock-up corset in the back for you, you need to be able to lace it with all the boning and the busk in to see how well it fits and supports.

Anyway, enough talk. Here are some pictures!

Here is my horrible mock up. I used a hideous homespun that was much too stretchy . It used to be an apron.
If you look closely you can see how horrible my gussets are and that I got the right and wrong sides confused, so a few seams are facing the wrong way. Oops!

Cotton drill inner lining - a much, much better execution than my mock-up!

One gusset done, the other not. It's a beautiful thing to behold!

My silk corset cover. Man, that silk was hard to get to submit to gussets!
Not to mention it defied the iron, as you can see.

Close up of incomplete gussets

All the layers put together, with the shoulder straps and the layers basted down.
I think the gold silk worked out rather well, which I am so glad about! I even have a little left over. Yippee!

Now all I need is the busk and the boning put in!
I sure hope it fits well enough...



Monday, September 3, 2012

Homemade Dress Form!

Making costumes for yourself by yourself can be a little tricky. I have memories of sewing a costume, trying it on, taking it off, sewing some more, and all the while dodging pins and half the time having to sew in my corset! Not very fun, but at least I had great posture! haha! However, considering the Regency corset only laces in the back and does not open in the front like my Civil War corset, I would be forced to sew my dress bodices in my corset without the luxury of unhooking it for a breather. Not good!

So, I have been doing research and looking around at various dress forms and man are they expensive! Even on sale at $99, it's a boatload of money for, what a lot of reviews feel are, expensive pieces of plastic junk. I was starting to get discouraged until I stumbled upon the most wonderful thing. I was more than thrilled to find a very nice tutorial for...

...making your own dress form from paper tape!!!

So cheap! So easy! So awesome!!!

Here is the tutorial. I can't wait to try out my own! I was worried about the bust though. I'd be using this for making historical costumes that require a corset as a foundation. She suggests wearing your regular bra, but I'm going to wear a sports bra, because that would be closer to the actual squishing my chest will undergo with the corset, and the dress form is not squishable like I am. I thought about wearing the corset to make the dress form, but I wouldn't be able to switch between Victorian and Regency that way. So, I think I'll stick to the sports bra idea.


I'm hoping to get the materials today. I'll let you know how it goes!